Bridge to Sweden
Newsletter no 33
Buildings in Dala-Floda, Dalarna - 200
to 300 years old
Photo: Marie Louise Bratt
Summer is coming to an end here in
Sweden, you can feel it in the clear air, which already smells
wonderfully different from the summer air. If you live in North
America, you might recognize this... Perhaps with autumn you will
also be ready to return to the search for your ancestors. If you
live in Australia or in New Zealand, of course, spring is
Perhaps you spent much of last winter
and spring searching for your Swedish grandfather or grandmother,
who was born in Sweden. You might know his or her name (at least the
one used in Canada or in Australia) and date of birth, but now you
want more. You are even starting to think about maybe finding out
where your grandma or grandpa lived, if there were sisters and
brothers, and living relatives in Sweden.
If you think you might travel to
Sweden next spring or summer, don't wait with starting your
research. It can take time to find out where your ancestor came from
and especially to find those living relatives and to contact them.
I'll be happy to help you to get started, or even to do the whole
job for you!
What is in this
1. Let's start to talk about Dalarna,
one of my absolutly favorite provinces (landskap) in Sweden. Many
emigrated from there during the 1800s, when crop failure caused
2. Emigration to European countries:
Yes, not every emigrant went to North America, or to Australia or
New Zealand. Many stayed in Europe - and that is what I'll write
... meaning "the valleys",
Dalecarlia in English. Yes, there are valleys, many of them, as well
as wide rivers, lakes and mountains. Dalarna is the name of the
province (landskap), but now even the county (län) is
called Dalarna. Not too long ago the name was Kopparbergs län,
which is why, in older records, you need to look for that name
when you research your family from Dalarna.
The people of Dalarna value their
heritage. Old buildings are given much care and have been preserved
for centuries. Here you can find beautiful log houses from the 17th
and 18th centuries. There are also fäbodar, groups of
houses located in the mountainous parts of Dalarna, where young
women guard cows and goats who graze there during the summer months.
Perhaps your great grandmother cared for animals while staying in
these small houses. Life in the fäbod was filled with work
(taking care of the animals, making cheese from their milk) but also
of music! These young women sang
songs in order to call the animals back home in the evenings.
Simple instruments were developed during many centuries - one of
them is called
näverlur. Enjoy some
while watching one of many beautiful churches from this area.
The naming customs are quite
different in Dalarna as compared to the rest of Sweden. Each farm
has a name, which is usually true in other parts of Sweden as well,
but in Dalarna that name is also part of the name of those people
who live on the farm. So Kers Erik refers to Erik who lives on the
farm named Kers.
More about that here.
Before looking at the more important
towns in Dalarna you need some maps. Just
click on this link,
enter the name of the town, e.g. Mora, and there is the town in
front of you. Try "flygfoto" and you get an arial view.
Here are a few of the most wellknown
towns in Dalarna:
is a small town located next to Lake Siljan. This is where
the beautiful floor clocks called
come from. Actually these clocks were made all over Dalarna, but got
their name from the town named Mora. Even more interesting might be,
at least if you like sports,
Vasaloppet, the Vasa race, 90 kilometers of cross country skiing
through Dalarna and ending in Mora. What could be better! Almost
3000 people emigrated from Mora during the late 1800s. Most of them
went to North America, mostly to Minnesota and other midwestern
Våmhus is also located
on Lake Siljan. There is a long history of making beautiful jewelry
out of hair in this area. The jewelry was first made from horsehair,
but later on from human hair. Women from Våmhus traveled long
distances in order to sell this jewelry, even to countries quite far
away. Around 1000 people emigrated from this small area, to Chicago,
Minnesota, Nebraska and others.
In Våmhus, and in Orsa, a Baptist
movement started already in the 1860s. It spread along the Siljan
shore, among the farm communities. Because of the lack of support
for religions other than the Lutheran one, many emigrated.
Leksand - Here is
where you can do your research during your trip to Dalarna and find
out all you ever wanted to know about your family from this
province. Write to them at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Many emigrated from Leksand to
Colorado, California and Washington State.
Rättvik - many left for
Isanti county in Minnesota, and here is a
list with some of them. Also a summary of Karl Nelson's work
emigration from Rättvik to Isanti county.
Carl Larsson is one of the most loved painter in Sweden. He
lived in Sundborn, Dalarna. Would you like to see some of
It will also give you an idea of how people lived in the late
1800s (at least the wealthier ones).
Falun, the ancient
mining city - your great grandfather might have worked in this huge
copper mine. It is believed that it was started in the 800s, and was
closed in 1992. These days concerts are held in the mine.
You might also be interested in this
maybe not from Dalarna, but rather typical of Swedish emigrant
women. She left Sweden on her own, managed to find work in America,
worked hard, married, had children - and remained in the new
I almost forgot to tell you about the
small colorful wooden horse, once a child's toy, which has become a
souvenir loved by tourists who visit Sweden. Every Swede has one at
home, and many, many Americans of Swedish descent have dalahästar
Going to North America was
popular, of course, but many could not afford the trip, or simply
did not want to travel that far. Or perhaps a young person started
the trip to that faraway country, but something happened on the way,
so plans changed.
Many boarded a ship across the water,
from Skåne to Denmark, or crossed the mountains from Värmland to
Norway. Or perhaps took the train to Germany, to find work. Or
boarded a ship in Göteborg for Hull, in Great Britain, planning to
go on from there after a while, but decided that this was far enough
Norway (Norge): Between 1814 and1905 Sweden and Norway
were united, in Svensk-Norska Unionen. This meant that any
move between the two countries really was just a move within the
union. The church records usually recorded this move in the
husförhörslängd (household examination record) and the
flyttningslängd (moving record). Moves between the countries
continued even after the dissolution of the union. Many moved to
Norway, and then continued on, usually to North America, immediately
or after some time. You can read about the
from Norway here.
Denmark (Danmark) was also a destination for many
Swedes, especially for those who lived in the southern provinces of
Sweden. Many young people found work in Denmark, stayed for a while
and then returned home. Some went to Copenhagen and then
there, to North America, to Australia and other destinations.
Then, of course, everyone in Skåne, Blekinge and Halland comes from
Danish families, since those provinces belonged to Denmark until
Great Britain (Storbrittanien): Most emigration
occurred from Göteborg (Gothenburg), by ships to Hull on England's
east coast. The journey then continued by train to Liverpool, where
huge steam ships made stops from Germany or other countries to North
America, Australia and New Zealand. There was often some wait
involved, especially in Liverpool, which made it possible to change
plans. So the emigration was sometimes shortened and the emigrant
remained in Great Britain. Perhaps you can find your ancestor in the
UK census, unless, of course, the family emigrated later on, to
Australia or Canada maybe.
There was considerable emigration from Sweden to Germany. Many
returned home after some years, others traveled to Hamburg or other
ports and emigrated from there. If you suspect that this was the
case for your ancestor, you might want to check out the website with
most records for the period between 1850 and 1934. The records are
not published on this website however, so you have to go to paid
sites. Many other records were destroyed, mostly during the wars.
I look forward to hearing from you,
as you settle in at your desk, or in your comfortable chair, with
your computer, starting your search for your Swedish ancestors.
Remember to spend a while with your older relatives, and even with
the younger ones, and start your research there. It's often amazing
what you might find out that way about those Swedes who left their
homes a long time ago. Feel free to send me the information you
collect - I might be able to give you some hints as to how to
proceed from there. Your first inquiry is at no cost!
Please let me know if you no longer
want to receive this newsletter. If you believe that your sister,
cousin, aunt, neighbor or son would like to get it, just forward it
to them, and if they wish, they can also subscribe.
Jag önskar er en mycket fin
höst! I wish you a very nice autumn! And I wish you a fine
spring also (this is for those of you who live in Australia and in